The big yawn


Geraldine Sealey
April 1, 2004 8:47PM (UTC)

David Letterman and CNN are squabbling over a clip Dave showed on Monday night of a boy yawning behind President Bush. Here's a description from the newsletter of The Late Show Home Office, the Wahoo Gazette. From the sound of it, CNN really screwed up on this one.

"Last night we showed a clip of the President giving a speech. Behind him stood a lad who was obviously bored silly. The 14-year-old or so yawned, scratched, yawned, yawned, checked his watch, bent over, stared at the ceiling, and then fell asleep during the President's speech. It was very funny. So funny, in fact, that CNN replayed the clip Tuesday during their broadcasts. But, but, but, the first time is was shown, CNN anchorwoman Daryn Kagan reported that the White House said the clip was a total fake, it was merely the Late Show having fun with their ability to edit and do TV tricks. Dave says what the CNN reporter said was an out and out 100 percent lie. A couple hours later, CNN anchor person Kyra Phillips reported that the kid was at the speech but not where the Late Show had him. Dave again makes the claim, "That's an out and out absolute 100 percent lie. That kid was exactly where we said he was." It's true. The speech was at a Florida Rally on March 20th at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. Dave is irked that the White House was trying to make him look like a jerk. But he's glad he got his side of the story out in the open."

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But there's more. The Washington Post TV column says that not long after Letterman said on the air that CNN was lying, he "read one of his trademark cards that he's always fiddling with, and started to laugh: "God almighty, my life just gets more and more complicated. You know, just a minute ago . . . I was ranting and raving about the White House. According to this, CNN has just phoned and, according to this information, the anchorwoman misspoke, they never got a comment from the White House. It was a CNN mistake. 'What good does that do me? . . . I've already now called them liars. I think from now on we're going to have to start looking into things,'" Letterman said. 'Why start now?' his bandleader Paul Shaffer said. 'Because everything was fine, except now I've called the White House liars, and you know what that means -- they're going to start looking into my taxes!'"

A CNN spokeswoman told the Post that the problem had arisen due to "a misunderstanding among staff," but would not elaborate.


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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